Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gimme dat Cataclysmic Gear!

It's not for endgame, but they now have hunters' rifles that look more like goblin RPGs!

How is your gear? All oiled up and polished and ready to go? I know it mine is. I wanted to talk a bit about what the gear will be like climbing to 85 based on my observations in Beta.

Levels 80-82: the Vash'jir or Mt. Hyjal zones will be equalizers. If you have gear from 25-man ICC (and perhaps from heroic 10-man ICC) then you probably won't upgrade too much of your gear. If your gear is hovering around ilevel 251 or lower, then you'll be switching up fast. By the time people are finishing either of these first two zones, they should all be looking a lot alike in terms of gear power, if not fashions. The average gear score you'll have after these zones will probably be around ilevel 289, not a big jump from ICC gear.

One of the general things you find with quest greens is that none will ever be as well-rounded as what you're already wearing. Spiffy Tier 10 gear has a bit of everything your class and spec needs to get ahead in the world. And if not, then it has two or three gem slots to close the gap.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

When is Racialism Racist?

racism |ˈrāˌsizəm|  - noun
  • the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
  • prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief
racialism |ˈrā sh əˌlizəm| - noun
  • another term for racism.

I was reading a piece of commentary about J.R.R Tolkien this past weekend that dropped something on me that I hadn't really thought of before. Tolkein might be regarded as "racialist" in the way that he attributes specific characteristics to the different races that populate his Middle-Earth.  "Dwarves really like material goods. Hobbits are fat and kind of lazy." Even the different lines of men have their good qualities and bad qualities based largely on "bloodline," which makes it seem like something of a eugenics observation.

Before we proceed any further, let me state that Tolkein was no racist. He vocally opposed anti-Semitism, Adolf Hitler (who he called a "ruddy little ignoramus") and the Nazi Party. He once commented on racial segregation in South Africa, saying "The treatment of colour nearly always horrifies anyone going out from Britain." Scholars have noted that any latent racism of his early writings became fairly consciously repudiated in his later work.

Racism is one of those huge topics that I can't begin to address in a thousand words or so, so I won't try except to note that "Racism is bad." Beat that for succinct.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Raiders' Guide to Leveling in Cataclysm

The future is just over that horizon. No, the other one... to the right.

Here is some advice about the progression to level 85 that I think will be good for raiders to keep in mind for the way we play.

1. Run Dungeons
Raiders do this anyway, but the dungeon paradigm has changed so much from what it was in Wrath of the Lich King, and we have had no real opportunity to test ourselves in five-man content for some time. Learn all these fights on normal for when we come back on heroic. Besides, you want the drops. You can also accrue Justice Points for lvl 85 gear. The 4000 JP cap in place now will let you buy about a piece and a half of gear, so I seriously hope it will be removed or raised when leveling starts.

2. Hit your cooking/fishing/JC dailies from the start.
You'll need special currencies to advance your skills here, so try to get started collecting that stuff as soon as possible. All three of these quest givers lurk out on the canals in Stormwind. Admittedly, I don't think you'll get raid buff goodies out of fishing, however, I'm not sure I have found a recipe for anything other than fish. And you'll get skill points for completing that daily, at least.

We Don't Want Zombies on the Lawn

You know you want to say it. Do it! Do it!!  Brrrraaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnss

In the fun trivia section of Patch 4.0.3a, all comers ought to head out to the Hillsbradt Foothills, about halfway north, towards Dalaran Crater, to the small farmstead of a goblin named Braxie the Botanist.

Braxie is friendly to all comers, even though the Alliance has been totally run out of the zone, and he asks for your help protecting his home from hordes of zombies, ghouls, and other assorted undead. These undead seem to be originating from a nearby Foresaken encampment where the local apothecary officials have gone even a bit more freakish than usual.

When you take Braxie's quests, you shift into a new phase with a sort of top down view locked in and you use seeds Braxie has given you to plant a variety of growing things that attack oncoming zombies. And...


Is this starting to sound familiar?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What's the Recipe for a Cataclysm, anyway?

Warning: Herein lie major spoilers, based largely on my experience in beta, but including elements of Christine Golden's The Shattering, and a handful of developer notes, Blizzcon comments, and other gleaned facts.

The world has changed, and there are a lot of questions about this but most important are "Why? And How?"  (You know you are asking these. Don't pretend otherwise!)

All signs point to Deathwing but it's not really that simple. He is at the root of all this for sure, but the damage to our world comes from four separate (though related) problems.

Please follow the jump if you wish to pursue this question with me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bad Habits Begone!!

The time is short! The Cataclysm is coming! It is now time to get ready for real challenge again! But before we do that, there are a lot of bad habits we have gotten from Northrend that need to be put away.

1. Never, ever ever pull aggro off the tank.
Today, a mage could burst open his AoE four seconds before the tank pulls and it just doesn't matter. The mobs would die in the next few seconds, armor has far outpaced a mob's ability to really hurt the wearer, and the healer had almost all the time in the world to prevent that sort of death.  No more. When you go to the Throne of Tides in Vash'jir, and pull aggro, you are dead the moment that mob turns away from the tank. The mob is going to pound you to within an inch of your life, and even if the healer can pause from protecting the tank, he isn't going to get his heal on you before the mob hits you a second, fatal time.

2. Stop jumping around.
Positioning mobs is going to be more important, especially when CC is involved. A lot of tanks have become somewhat glib about how they simply charge into a fight and you see them bouncing up and down because we all know that the only thing more fun than playing WoW, is playing WoW when you are constantly hitting your jump button. As a corollary to this, melee dps will do better numbers if they are not bouncing as well, and should never, ever do that PvP movement thing where you continually circle your mob, pretending that you can get it dizzy or something.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Where's the Mana at?

Three Faces of Merinna: Hardcore, Hardcorer, Hardcorest

Well, gentle readers, we are but three weeks away from The Cataclysm. And I have been confused about mana. Like, "Why am I not running out of it?"

Individual heals still seem slower and somewhat weaker, but those "mana problems" I've been writing about did not materialize in 4.0.1. I played like I will on day one of Cataclysm and was healing more conservatively than was necessary and, ahem, not getting the job done.

But really, I've been reading Elitist Jerks and other blogs about these problems and I'm not the only one who has come to see our Healing Surge as too expensive to use on anything less than an emergency. Nevertheless, one can spam it for all it's worth in heroic ICC fights today and still come up smelling like roses. Telluric Currents is fooling people into thinking it's useful because it actually returns mana. Why? How is this happening?

It's the Little Things... (part 4)

Surf's up for Orlanna and Thrall in the Maelstrom

Beware The Maelstrom
Actually, don't beware. It's actually one of the all time coolest scenes I have ever seen in this game to date. Thing is, you can only go there once.  Teleportation to this spot where you can meet Thrall and his new squeeze is only available via a quest giver. Once you finish that quest, you cannot get another port back. Nor is there any other transportation method to reach it. So, my advice is, when you stop by on the way to Deepholme, take some snapshots and spend a few minutes looking around.

Friday, November 12, 2010

World of Warcraft: How to Win at Guilds

Machinima break!  I just sat here for about 10 minutes thinking about how I should introduce this, and then it dawned on me that it's probably really not necessary. Wowcrendor is always fun. And the "Go!Go!Go!Go!" guy returns.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Flame On!! Maging it Up, Post-Patch 4.0

One day soon, my mage will kill this guy. In the meantime, we
just take pictures while sitting in his lap. Take that, Arthas!!

My main alt, Eridar has been busy the past few weeks. Her little 10-man Raid that Could has been working on the Lich King fight. We've had the same lockout for about three weeks and it's all getting better and better. I think we might kill him before Dec. 7.

But in the midst of all this is trying to hit hard as a mage and not pull aggro. Easy, right?

Hmm, it depends.

I specced up in fire, right off, because I have been and remain fairly excited about that talent tree. Living Bomb, mana-free Scorching on the run, Impact and Cauterize... What's not to like about those?

The fire tree is pretty heavy on DoTs. The super-new version of Combustion is the mark of that. But what I hadn't entirely picked up is how AoE-rampant the fire specc is.

The first week put of the gate, I start pounding Arthas with fireballs and the lucky pyroblast too. I renew Living Bomb, get an impact procc, and...

... half the ghouls and a Shambling Horror come over, knock me on my head, and I fall down. Ouch. The OT said he fumbled the taunt when that happened, so we tried it all a few more times, but basically, it had the same effect: a lot of adds, angry at me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The History of the World Part 1

"What a Wonderful World..."
Back in the days when the rivers and seas of Azeroth ran vanilla, all was not well.

There were blustery fire elementals fighting with black dragons over real estate. There were no-good, two-bit trolls trying to bring their death god out to play. The formerly greatest of kingdoms, Lordaeron, lay in shambles, being fought over by rival gangs of undead. And deep in the south, some gnarly old evil tried taking on the world with his ... insects.

Many of the old heroes of the world, Malfurion Stormrage or King Varian Wrynn for example, were "indisposed." Jaina Proudmoore and Thrall were busy nation-building. King Magni Bronzebeard of the dwarves was throwing a conniption fit over how his daughter ran off with some guy, and Sylvanas of the Forsaken was playing with her chemistry set.

Most of the "big" dangers of Azeroth were relatively local in scale. I don't recall that Tyrande Whisperwind ever made any big concern over whatever they were up to in Blackwing Lair. Similarly, you could have probably quizzed Magni Bronzebeard about the A'quir and he would have given you a blank look.

Perhaps as a result of this lack of focus, the evils were put down but not really destroyed. The fact that we have Netharion, Ragnaros, Cho'gall and others returning after the Cataclysm only proves this. "Vanilla WoW was just a setback!!"

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lessons for the Elemental Invasion that We Should Have Learned from the Undead Invasion

Panic on the streets of Stormwind, Panic on the streets of Ironforge.
And I wonder to myself, will anything be sane again?
The Elements of Azeroth are getting frisky! Doomsday cults are running through the cities! Dogs and cats lying together! Mass hysteria! This can only mean one thing: It's time for the world event! Woo Woo!

I can't think about all this starting up without thinking about the last time it happened: two years ago, when the Lich King pulled his "Plague-the-Grain-and-Turn-Everybody-to-Zombies" routine. And for a few days it was utterly super-fun madness with two scoops of awesome on top.

But, the event wasn't entirely smooth and a lot of this was due to player reaction to the events, a few small glitches with the implementation, and some clashes between how players were "playing" with the event.

I know I learned a few thing from that, and I'm pretty sure Blizzard did too. So, following are some lessons learned from the Zombie Invasion that will probably help us weather the Elemental Invasion.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Taurajo Affair

If you ask me, Tauarajo doesn't look that different from what it did before it was sacked.
WARNING: Mild spoilers and serious Horde-bashing within

The Southern Barrens has turned into one of the most war-torn places in Azeroth. Unlike in Ashenvale, where the Horde is running rampant over Night Elf forces for the most part, The Alliance in the Barrens is fighting back.

(Ostensibly, this zone is an Alliance offensive. So I guess you could say the Horde is fighting back. But you get the point)

There is one key event in the Southern Barrens that supposedly shows the moral murkiness of war, that the Alliance is not purely "good" nor that the Horde is all "bad." The story is different, depending on which side of the conflict you are listening to, since we don't get to view the event itself.

But now I have played through both sides of this conflict, and I find the moral positions of the Alliance and the Horde much more solid than I was originally led to believe.

The event of course, is the sacking of the Taurajo.